Sunday, 28 August 2011

Greenloaning to Braco Real Ale Festival: 27th August 2011

This was my annual visit to the Braco Real Ale and Music festival. OK - I'd only been once before, but this was only the 3rd time the event was taking place. The people I'd chatted to last time were really enthusiastic & friendly, so I definitely wanted to make it back this year.

Braco is on the Stirling/Perthshire border and is not the easiest place to get to by public transport.

View Braco, 27th Aug. 2011 in a larger map
Outward transport was as follows:-
  Train : Glasgow Queen Street to Stirling - too tight @Dunblane for the direct/slower train
  Train : Stirling to Dunblane
  Bus : Dunblane to Greenloaning (20, Docherty's Coaches)

After alighting from the bus (pretty well on time), there was a 5 minutes walk to The Allanbank Hotel for lunch.
The Allanbank (website currently seems down) is a pretty basic rural pub/inn, but it's got some interesting rural bric-a-brac, a great beer garden, a roaring fire and the food's OK. It doesn't have any real ale, but I did get an acceptable bottle of Furstenberg to go with my Ploughman's.

The half hour walk into Braco was fairly unexciting, but Braco itself has a number of interesting features, notably the Ardoch Fort which really does give you an idea of the extensive fortifications that were required to keep the 'barbarians' out.

Then it was off to Braco Hall where the festival was taking place. Braco's only a small place so there were only 10 beers and 2 ciders on (1 up from last year). It's probably the only time I'll ever be able to list all the beers at a beer festival :-
  Tinpot : Marmelade Pot, Bramble Pot, Ardoch Legion, Ginger Cider, Dry Cider
  TSA : Glen Coe Stout, Ben Nevis IPA
  Williams : 7 Giraffes
  Tryst : Carronade IPA, Drovers 80/-
  Harviestoun : Schiehallion
  Inveralmond : Inkie Pinkie
All were in pretty good condition. The Ardoch Legion was a special for the festival - light straw coloured, a slight sulphurous aroma and seriously hoppy & bitter - quite a surprise from Tinpot/TSA and very nice indeed.
I recognised and was recognised by quite a few of the organisers (ADT Trust, to who the proceeds go) and some of the early customers, and just stood at the bar having quite a few halves of beer chatting away to people about beer, why the village pub had closed, Brewdog Glasgow, golf and all sorts of things for the best part of 2 hours - can't really ask for much better on a Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately the music didn't really start until I was just about to go, but according to the people I spoke to, it's very good and almost the entire village turns out in the evening.

Return transport :-
  Bus : Braco to Dunblane (47, Stagecoach)
  Train : Dunblane to Stirling (damn - Edinburgh train)
  Train : Stirling to Glasgow Queen Street

A very enjoyable day out at a very friendly place, and as an added bonus, I managed to get a couple of pints of Fyne Ales's new seasonal beer, West Highland Black IPA at The Laurieston Bar - quite an excellent beer.